Stephen Ministries

Stephen Ministries

A one-to-one ministry of trained lay men and women offering confidential, Christ-centered care to people who are hurting.

At SRVUMC we see our Stephen Ministry care as an extension of Christ’s love and an expression of pastoral care. In addressing spiritual matters, Stephen ministers meet their care receivers where they are, helping them work through challenges without pressuring them or forcing faith upon them.

In our San Ramon Valley UMC vision statement, we identify ourselves as a community on a journey with God, mind, body and soul. Stephen Ministry brings us more fully in community with one another.

What Is Stephen Ministry?

Stephen Ministry is the one-to-one ministry of trained lay men and women who offer confidential, Christ-centered care to people who are hurting.

What Does a Stephen Minister Do?

Stephen Ministers make a time commitment. Stephen Ministers undergo fifty hours of training in active listening, confidentiality and other key skills. Twice monthly, these lay people meet for peer supervision and continuing education.

Stephen Ministers listen without judgment or pushing advice. Once commissioned, a Stephen minister provides care to one person at a time, meeting dependably face-to-face for about an hour per week. In each meeting, the Stephen Minister listens attentively to the person. As the relationship unfolds, the distinctively Christian nature of their time together may include prayer, sharing Scripture, or discussing some of the questions about God that might surface in trying times.

Stephen Ministers understand their limits: Christ is the “cure-giver”, and we are the “care-givers.” Significantly, a Stephen minister is not a counselor or therapist, a problem-solver, errand person or casual visitor.

Who Can Have a Stephen Minister?

People who receive care from Stephen ministers are not necessarily members of San Ramon Valley UMC or any church. When assigned a Stephen minister, they are struggling with some life crisis. A few challenges that draw people to seek Stephen Ministry include, but are not limited to

  • Grief
  • Divorce
  • Job loss
  • Recent move
  • Illness or the illness of a loved one
  • Changes in mobility

When a person’s need exceeds a Stephen minister’s training, the Stephen Ministry team refers the person to an appropriate mental health professional or other community resource.

The Stephen minister assigned will match the person’s gender: men are matched with men, and women are matched with women. Watch videos from these men and women at the Stephen Ministries main website to learn how having a Stephen minister helped them.

More than 13,000 congregations have a Stephen Ministry across multiple denominations and internationally. According to the national Stephen Ministries website, more than one and a half million people have had a Stephen minister to listen and care for them.

We have more to tell you about Stephen Ministry in our FAQ. If you have specific questions, you can also email Al Banisch or Lisa Jancarik. You can also look at the national Stephen Ministry website,, for more information.